Scroll to Continue
Adult males range from 40 to 52 feet and can weigh up to 45 tons. Despite their size, humpback whales are graceful acrobats. Keep your eye on the ocean and you might see one breach, propelling up to 40 percent of its body out of the water and landing on its side with a spectacular splash.
Whales have great cultural significance for Native Hawaiians. They play a large role in Hawaiian legend—including one creation story—and appear in ancient petroglyphs on several islands. The return of the kohola (humpback whale) is considered more of a homecoming than a visit. Humpback whales are born in Hawaiian waters, making them kamaaina (native born). Some Native Hawaiians also believe the whales are aumakua (family guardians), so these gentle giants are treated with great respect.
Cultural Significance of Whales in Hawaii
Although humpback whales can be seen from all of the Hawaiian Islands, the shallow Auau Channel between Maui, Molokai and Lanai is one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world.
What's the Best Way to See Whales?
You may also spot kohola from the southern shores of Oahu, especially at Makapuu Lighthouse and along the seaside overlooks near Leahi (Diamond Head).
Kauai offers a range of whale-viewing opportunities, including Poipu Beach on the South Shore, Kilauea Lighthouse on the North Shore and Kapaa Overlook on the island’s Coconut Coast.
On the island of Hawaii, whales are often seen along the shores of the Kohala Coast, as well as Hilo Bay on the east side of the island. The Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site is another great viewing spot, with its sweeping, elevated views near Kawaihae Harbor. In fact, Puukohola literally means “hill of the whale” in Hawaiian.
Boat tours may be your best option for viewing whales up close. Hawaii has dozens of tour operators, including a few that lead kayak excursions—a thrilling way to experience these majestic mammals.
In respect for the kohola and the safety of sightseers, all watercraft must stay a minimum of 100 yards from the whales, but you'll be surprised how close you feel when a 45-ton behemoth lunges out of the sea. If a boat tour is not for you, the whales’ impressive acrobatic displays are often visible from miles away. If you're on land, keep a pair of binoculars handy because you never know when you'll see a humpback’s spout (which can be 10–20 feet tall).
Your best travel partner Kintetsu International.
Booking online with Snorkel Molokini is the easiest, least expensive and fastest way to plan your snorkel at Molokini Crater.
Book a flight, plan a wedding, buy Hawai'i products and more!
FareHarbor provides modern reservation software built for Hawaii - free online booking software for activity and tourism businesses.
Our all-new historical botanical tours showcase the horticultural artistry of Haiku Mill, infused with its 150-year-old history, for an immersive experience that is both educational and unforgettable.
Our experience & attention to detail will take the stress out of organizing your own wedding. We provide professional advice,have local knowledge and will work with your budget to ensure that your wedding is a success!
With Apple Vacations, you’ll have complete flexibility to create your ideal vacation. Relax on one island or create a multi-island vacation and discover the unique characteristics of each. Combine whatever you desire and design your perfect getaway.
Destination Management Company since 1980 includes greetings, transfers, theme events, tours. Your professional link between local suppliers & hotels to ensure a total program planned to the last interlocking detail and managed flawlessly on site.
We promote, encourage and preserve the historical, cultural, social and commercial vitality of Lahaina, the town and destination. We operate Lahaina Visitor Center, specialty gift shops, and Lahaina Heritage Museum in Old Lahaina Courthouse.
The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau represents the Islands of Hawai‘i in the highly competitive arena of destination marketing. The mission of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau is to create sustainable, diversified, travel destination demand for the Hawaiian Islands.